An avalanche warning is in effect for the West central Montana backcountry. The current avalanche danger is HIGH. Very dangerous avalanche conditions exist. Travel in and around avalanche terrain is not recommended. Large human triggered avalanches are likely.
This is Logan King with an avalanche warning for Monday, February 5th, 2017. This avalanche warning is valid for 24 hours. The avalanche warning will either be extended or terminated at 0600 on February 6th.
This danger rating does not apply to operating ski areas and is the sole responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service.
Weather and Snowpack
Snow and rain continue to impact the region. SWE’s across the area range from .9-1.6 inches of water this morning and an additional 6-12 inches of snow have fallen over the past 24 hours. Temperatures this morning at the majority of mountain locations are above 32 degrees and did not drop below freezing overnight. Rain line is currently around 5,500-6,000 feet, and rain was reported to over 7,000 feet yesterday. Ridge top winds are 22 mph gusting to 36 mph from the WNW.
A large and heavy load of snow has been added to the northern portion of the advisory area. We received reports of up to 2 feet of new snow yesterday, strong winds and dense snow falling. Further south heavy snow and rain have about 6,000 feet have added a significant load of water that is stressing the snowpack. Continued precipitation with the potential of up to another inch of water today are further complicating avalanche conditions.
With the snow/water totals we have seen, rain to unseasonably high elevations and strong winds; avalanche conditions have significantly deteriorated. Storm slabs, wet slabs, wind slabs, persistent and deep persistent avalanches are all possibilities today. With the multitude of problems and high probability of failures today, traveling around or on avalanche terrain is not recommended.
Keep in mind that the majority of avalanche accidents happen during or immediately after a storm. The snow pack doesn’t like rapid changes and has gotten a significant load over a short period of time. Conditions will remain touchy for the next couple of days until the snow has time to settle.
Ski and ride safe.